AMEC embarks on campaign to eradicate AVE use but former chair questions 'ban'

The International Association for the Measurement and Evaluation of Communication (AMEC) has embarked on a campaign to "eradicate" the "derided" AVE measurement method - as a former chair of the organisation has warned that banning it wholesale would be unpopular.

At its global summit in Bangkok last month, AMEC's international board announced to members that it would invite PR and comms organisations across the world to "join its initiative to eradicate fully the use of advertising equivalency value (AVE) and all of its derivatives as metrics in public relations work", an AMEC statement said.

The educational campaign contains three main elements:

  • Creation of a 'Don’t Use AVEs' campaign logo (below)
  • Asking all international trade associations to stop the use of AVEs as "the sole means of showing measurement for a campaign" in entries for industry awards schemes
  • Asking the industry to come together at events and training to "continue to push the message that by using AVEs it demeans the credibility of the PR company or internal comms team involved", the AMEC statement reads.

The PRCA and ICCO are AMEC's first partners on the campaign.

AMEC chairman Richard Bagnall said the summit had ignited the need for action. He said: "It’s time AVEs stopped being a talking point in our industry. The way forward is to work with other friends and partners in the worldwide public relations industry to eradicate this derided metric."

Bagnall also said research showed that client demand for AVEs had dropped substantially in recent years, and went on to say: "Now is the time to kill it off completely once and for all."

Measures to completely "kill off" AVE use may meet some opposition, however. AVE use in UK PR may not have not fallen as much in recent years as AMEC suggests, according to two surveys: a study in 2009 found 37 per cent of UK agencies were using it, while another this year put that figure at 35 per cent.

CIPR ban

The CIPR last month said it would ban members from using AVEs and said they would "discipline" those who flouted the ban, raising concerns from both a past president and its president-elect that this was disproportionate.

A survey released earlier this week from measurement and marketing effectiveness agency Crescendo Consulting found relatively low support for bans on AVE use. Of the 104 PR and marketing professionals questioned, 44 per cent of those surveyed said they agreed that PR industry bodies should ban AVEs, with 43 per cent opposing it, and 13 per cent saying they had no preference either way.

Of the 14 in-house PR professionals in the survey, three said they agreed with such a ban, nine said they did not, and the other three had no opinion.

Crescendo director Mark Westaby, who was the chair of AMEC from 2001 to 2005, said bans such as the CIPR could be divisive. He said: "While admiring both the CIPR and AMEC for standing up against AVEs, the results of our survey suggest many members will leave directly because of the ban."

AMEC CEO Barry Leggetter told PRWeek that Westaby was confused, saying: "Westaby is inaccurately criticising AMEC for banning AVEs which we have not done and is therefore confusing AMEC's position with that of CIPR."

Leggetter also said that it was "disappointing" that Westaby had decided to "use the results of a small online survey to give him a news hook to generate interest in his new product", but also acknowledged that Westaby had been "a major force for good in helping to create AMEC over 20 years ago".

CIPR president Jason Mackenzie said: "Our members have grown tired of the debate surrounding AVEs and the majority are fully supportive of our plans to rid the industry of this vanity metric. In the autumn we will publish new professional guidance which will set out clearly what clients, employers and stakeholders can expect."


Read next: Row erupts as CIPR threatens to 'discipline' members that use AVEs'

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